Personal Kanban Case Study – 3 Year Old Sienna

April 8, 2014
Personal Agility - Level 1 Practice

Personal Agility – Level 1 Practice

Talk about taking your work home with you. Braintrust coach John tells the story of how he implemented a Personal Kanban with his 3 year old daughter Sienna. Check this one out, it’s pretty amazing!

The Problem

My 3 year old Sienna would not stay on task to go to bed in time. She would get very distracted (I think this is a genetic trait inherited from me) which caused her to stay up past her bedtime and make Mommy and Daddy exhausted.

The Solution

We know kids are visual, tactile, and crave empowerment. Well, then, Personal Kanban to the rescue!

Sienna's Personal Kanaban

Sienna’s Personal Kanaban

Sienna’s Personal Kanban

On a Sunday night, I quickly made a Personal Kanban with 3 lanes, a Yellow Light, Green Light, and Red Light. Yellow = To Do, Green = Work In Progress, Red = Done.

I went to the computer and downloaded pictures that would represent her bedtime tasks. We started with storytime, brushing teeth, pajamas, and goodnight. It grew in later iterations to include her Flintstone vitamins, milk, and potty. I posted the board (easel sticky paper) on her wall, at her height, so she could move each picture.

Using Sienna’s Personal Kanban

Pre-Bedtime Planning: We scan over all the items in the Yellow column that we need to do for bedtime. I ask her if she can do it all, which has always been a big “Yes!”.

Preparing For Bed: Sienna gets to choose which item moves to Green (Work In Progress). I will have to talk to her about some items she chooses if there is a dependency. Such as why brushing her teeth might not be a good idea if she has not finished drinking her milk. She loves moving the pictures and does not let me touch them. If I encroach on her territory, she races to the board, rightfully exclaiming, “No, Daddy, I want to move it”.

Feeling A Sense Of Accomplishment: Once all the items are in Red (Done), I ask her what she has accomplished. She’ll reply, while pointing to each picture with pride, “I put on my pajamas, I drank my milk, I read a story… I did a lot!”.

Reinforcing Good Behavior: I congratulate her for a job well done. I may also suggest something we can try different or improve for tomorrow (always inspect and adapt).

Seeing Results

I believe Sienna enjoys the process because she gets to pull which activities she does, making her more empowered. She is noticeably more on task and more self-directed. She will often start pulling a task from Yellow before I even prompt her. The great benefit is that I do not have to nag her to get these tasks done, she is eager to do it so she can move it to Done herself. If she does start getting distracted, I ask her what is in Green still or what can move to Green. I am sure this helps Daddy stay on task also.

What’s Next and Insights

My wife would love for me to change how it looks, since it is just a quick and dirty prototype to see if it would work. She has been patient with me since it has been effective. My next honey-do project is making the board look nice. My daughter wants to color some of the pictures, which will make it more “hers”.

Sienna’s Personal Kanban demonstrates how Agile is a very natural way to work. My daughter did not attend a project management class or a Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) certification to do it. We are highly visual and tactile and work best in an environment that enables self-empowerment. Agile is so easy, even a 3 year old can do it!

Try this with your young kids and students, I would love to hear your results. Good night, sleep tight, and don’t let the bed bugs bite.

Gone Digital

My work as a Braintrust coach and trainer requires me a to travel often. We began to use Trello so that I can still stay connected with her when I travel. Sienna will use her iPad or we project it to our Apple TV. She much prefers the physical board, so, we will see if digital is here to stay or to go.

Sienna's Virtual Personal Kanban

Sienna’s Virtual Personal Kanban

Have a Personal Kanban story that you would like to share. Tell us about it in the comments section.



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